Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Beautiful Girls (1996)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Beautiful Girls (1996)

In director Ted Demme's coming-of-age comedy/drama, it followed the lives of those gathering in town to attend a reunion in Knights Ridge, Massachusetts (fictional) ten years after their high-school graduation; the tale portrayed how a group of semi-immature buddies in the small blue-collar town didn't seem to appreciate the much-smarter women in their lives (especially with the predominance of super-models and female objectification in the culture), but finally came to some degree of reconciliation with them by film's end.

The 'reunion film' from Harvey Weinstein's Miramax Films resembled the first third of Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978), John Sayles' Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980), and more prominently director Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill (1983) with its ensemble cast portraying baby boomers reuniting after 15 years, plus the TV show thirtysomething (airing from 1987-1991):

  • the film's opening introduced New York jazz pianist Willie "Will" Conway (Timothy Hutton), who was counting money in his tip jar after playing, and was about to take a 6 hour Greyhound bus trip back to his hometown of Knight's Ridge, Massachusetts for his 10th year high school reunion; unsure of marriage, Willie had been involved in an almost year-long relationship with his girlfriend/attorney Tracy Stover (Annabeth Gish), who had been living together with him for six months; he had decided to arrive a few days early to survey the situation with his old friends
  • after arriving, he was given a ride to his boyhood home, to stay with his sad, still-grieving and heartbroken widower father Dick Conway (Richard Bright) and his younger brother Bobby (David Arquette)
  • three of Will's friends were still living in the town, two of whom were having serious relationship issues that Willie would have to mediate sometime during the week:
    • Paul Kirkwood (Michael Rapaport), the co-owner of a snow-plow business with Tommy; Paul had recently split after seven years from his long-time 27 year-old, vegetarian ex-girlfriend Jan (Martha Plimpton) when he refused her marriage-ultimatum, but remained angrily-jealous and bitter about her relationship with Victor (Adam LeFevre) - a 40 year-old divorced meat cutter with three kids; the distrustful and disgruntled Paul was living in Tommy's house
    • Tommy 'Birdman' Rowland (Matt Dillon), the ex-HS quarterback; he was promiscuously cheating on his girlfriend Sharon Cassidy (Mira Sorvino) while having an affair with his ex-HS sweetheart Darian Smalls (Lauren Holly) who was married to Steve Rossmore (Sam Robards); Sharon knew about Tommy's unfaithfulness but wanted to try and salvage their relationship
    • Michael "Mo" Morris (Noah Emmerich), a textile-plant manager, and a family man married to Sarah Morris (Anne Bobby), with two children

Snow-Plower Tommy "Birdman" Rowland (Matt Dillon)

Tommy's Cheating Sweetheart Darian Smalls (Lauren Holly)
  • Willie often met (and throughout the film often flirted with and offered advice) and spoke with his precocious, well-versed 13 year-old neighbor girl Marty (a scene-stealing Natalie Portman), mostly on the Conway's front snowy lawn; he first glanced at her building a snowman when he first arrived; then during their first conversation as he shoveled snow off his walkway, she told him that she realized his household was sad and lonely, due to the loss of his mother; she also told him: "(I'm) 13, but I'm an old soul"; then, she complimented him on his side-burns ("I like your burns, you're kinda cool!")
Marty's First Conversation with Willie: ("I'm an old soul")
  • Paul had been recently dumped by his longtime girlfriend Jan, and although he had been retaliating against her by blocking her driveway every night with snow, he also desperately proposed marriage to her; at an inopportune time, he interrupted her at her restaurant-waitress job with a gift of a champagne-tinted ring, but she flatly turned him down and rejected his unromantic offer, and then he became rude: ("Take the f--king ring!"); she refused to deal with him: ("This is a desperate act of a desperate man. Only when faced with losing me do you decide you want to spend the rest of your life with me"); shortly later at the recently-reopened Johnson Inn, run by proprietor Stanley "Stinky" Womack (Pruitt Taylor Vince), Paul's friends tried to get him out of his funk: (Tommy: "You buy a colored diamond for a girl you're not even seeing, man. You been eatin' retard sandwiches again")
  • soon after, Willie again spoke to Marty outside, when she speculated about his real reason to return home - to decide about his future commitment to his girlfriend Tracy: "You're a dude in flux. If I'm not mistaken, you've come back here to the house of loneliness and tears, to Daddy Downer and Brother Bummer, to come to some sort of decision about life, a life decision if you will...Am I right? Life decision? You got the full-on Hamlet thing going? Hamlet? Danish prince, couldn't make decisions"; when she directly asked: "So why don't you marry her?", Marty was reluctant to answer and receive advice from the 13 year-old
  • while having sex, Tommy and his jealous girlfriend Sharon (who knew about his infidelity with Darian) argued together and both of them considered breaking up; Sharon proposed ending their relationship: "What do I do? How am I supposed to get through to you when the best years of your life were high school, when you were the king of the hill, the 'Birdman,' and Darian was your girlfriend? I mean, you want all that back! I can't give that to you. How do I compete with a way of life that's totally and completely impossible for you to ever have again?"
Sharon (Mira Sorvino) with Tommy (Matt Dillon)
  • later, Sharon's girlfriends, including her fast-talking friend Gina Barrisano (Rosie O'Donnell), suggested that she break up with the non-committal Tommy, and that she would eventually recover within a few years; Sharon vowed she still loved Tommy and decided to try and salvage things by throwing him a surprise birthday party
  • during a brief conversation about his future and getting older with Mo and his wife Sarah, Willie was contemplating taking an offer of a steady sales job with a base salary (plus commission) to sell office equipment, but Mo advised against Willie giving up his real love - piano playing ("That's bogus...You are no salesman")
  • at the recently-reopened Johnson Inn bar-room in town where everyone was hanging out, long-haired blonde Andera (Uma Thurman) from Chicago, the attractive "vixen" cousin of the bar's proprietor "Stinky", made a stunning entrance; she met the group of guys in town for the reunion, ordered six whiskey shots for everyone, and requested that Willie play the piano - and they all sang Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" together
  • the next day, down-to-earth, strident Gina also delivered a smart-mouthed, put-down monologue (functioning as a Greek chorus) to high-school grads Tommy and Willie about their centerfold beauty myth and unrealistic expectations that most guys possessed about supermodels - the film's most memorable scene:

    "You're both f--kin' insane. You want to know what your problem is? MTV, Playboy, and Madison f--king Avenue. Yes. Let me explain something to you, ok? Girls with big tits have big asses. Girls with little tits have little asses. That's the way it goes. God doesn't f--k around; he's a fair guy. He gave the fatties big, beautiful tits and the skinnies little tiny niddlers. It's not my rules. If you don't like it, call him....(picking up a Penthouse magazine in a grocery store) Oh, guys, look what we have here. Look at this, your favorite, oh you like that?...Yeah, that's nice, right? Well, it doesn't exist, OK? Look at the hair, the hair is long, it's flowing. It's like a river. Well, it's a f--kin' weave, OK? And the tits? Please! I could hang my overcoat on them. Tits, by design, were invented to be suckled by babies. Yes, they're purely functional. These are Silicon City. And look, my favorite, the shaved pubis. Pubic hair being so unruly and all. Very key. This is a mockery, this is sham, this is bulls--t..."

Gina Barrisano to Tommy and Willie: "Beauty is Truly Skin Deep"
  • she continued:

    "Implants, collagen, plastic, capped teeth, the fat sucked out, the hair extended, the nose fixed, the bush shaved... These are not real women, all right? They're beauty freaks. And they make all us normal women with our wrinkles, our puckered boobs... our cellulite feel somehow inadequate. Well I don't buy it, all right? But you f--kin' mooks, if you think that if there's a chance in hell that you'll end up with one of these women, you don't give us real women anything approaching a commitment. It's pathetic. I don't know what you think you're gonna do. You're gonna end up eighty-years old, drooling in some nursing home, then you're gonna decide it's time to settle down, get married, have kids? What, are you gonna find a cheerleader?... Look at Paul - with his models on the wall, his dog named Elle MacPherson. He's insane! He's obsessed. You're all obsessed. If you had an ounce of self-esteem, of self-worth, of self-confidence, you would realize that as trite as it may sound, beauty is truly skin-deep. And you know what, if you ever did hook one of those girls, I guarantee you'd be sick of her...No matter how perfect the nipple, how supple the thigh, unless there's some other s--t goin' on in the relationship besides the physical, it's gonna get old, OK? And you guys, as a gender, have got to get a grip. Otherwise, the future of the human race is in jeopardy"

  • the next time that Willie saw Marty, he acted slightly jealous that she was bragging about having a 12 year-old 'boyfriend' classmate named Andrew Willis; when he asked: "So you like this guy Andrew?", she jokingly answered: "He's OK. He's into male contraception which is nice for a change" - and then advised: "You've really got to chill, Will"
  • during a brief conversation with his friends, Will was forced to rate and rank various females on a numerical scale of 1-10 (face, body, personality); he rated his girlfriend Tracy as "good, solid" on all of the qualities, with a average score of 7 1/2
  • Tommy was blind-sided by Sharon when he entered the VFW building in town for a bathroom stop and was greeted by all of his friends for a surprise birthday party she had planned for him; the festive party was sabotaged by the arrival of a drunken Darian who began to seduce him; Tommy was forced to drive her home, ruining the party for Sharon who left with her friends (Gina: "She polluted the air"); once in Darian's driveway, she asked Tommy: "Why couldn't I share in your special night?", and invited him inside for sex: "I want you to come inside....I have to give you your real present...You can slip into something more comfortable...Like me"; he threw her out of his truck; shortly later, Tommy's attempt to reconcile with Sharon failed
  • at the broken-up birthday party, a drunken Willie confided in Mo about his feelings for 13 year-old neighbor girl Marty: ("This girl is gonna be amazing. And she's smart, she's funny, she's hot"), and although Mo wondered about him (referencing Roman Polanski and Nabokov - author of Lolita), Willie suggested that he could just wait for her to grow up: "It's not a sexual thing.... I could wait....Cause in ten years, she'll be 23, I'll be 39, it won't be a big deal", but Mo was dismayed: "Willie, you're scaring me here...Willie, the girl was a zygote when you were in seventh grade"; Willie realized he was avoiding decisions regarding his girlfriend Tracy, and possibly didn't want to age or grow up himself: "What are you saying? Like, this is my way of postponing the inevitable? This is my way of saying I don't wanna grow old?"; he realized he was being unrealistic, and ended the conversation with: "I just want something beautiful"
  • during another of his conversations at the edge of a frozen pond while she ice-skated, Willie learned that Marty had broken up with "dork" Andrew - and then she admitted her love for Willie and fell backwards into his arms: ("You're my new boyfriend"); she also advised him to not marry Tracy: ("You should wait until you meet someone who excites you"); when he described their obvious problem of their age difference: "We have a little age problem....So what do we do?", she replied with a Shakespearean flourish: "I know. We're as star-crossed as Romeo and Juliet. It's a tragedy of Elizabethan proportions.... Alas, poor Romeo, we can't do diddly. You'll go to penitentiary, and I'll be the laughing stock of the Brownies. But if your feelings for me are true, you'll wait...Yeah, wait five years! I'll be 18. We can walk through this world together"
  • although embarrassed and shocked, Willie decided to decline her offer with a follow-up comment about growing up, and how she would mature, change, and forget about him in 5 years time - with a reference to the Pooh books: ("You know, in five years, you won't even remember me...I'm formed and you're not, and you still have changes to go through. You'll change and then I'll be Winnie the Pooh to your Christopher Robin...Well, Christopher Robin outgrew Pooh, that's how it ended. He had Pooh when he was a child. Now when he matured, he didn't need him anymore...You don't realize it now, but you'll be doing some changin'. And, uh, I can't be a Pooh"); as he finished speaking, Marty was saddened and skated away: "That's the saddest thing I've ever heard...I think I'll skate away now, Pooh"
  • in the meantime at the Moonlight Mile bar in town, Paul was with his date Andera, as he tried to put on a 'tough-guy Al Capone' act, to manipulatively make Jan jealous (she was in the same bar with Victor); she briefly participated in the scheming ruse by dancing closely with Paul on the dance floor (prompting Jan to walk out of the bar), but then when Paul tried to kiss her, she slapped him across the face and left to return home, explaining why: ("I was trying to help you out. You're such a knucklehead!"); when Tommy drove by and tried to pick up on her, she told him that she was in an 8-month satisfying relationship back in Chicago with her boyfriend
Two Couples at the Moonlight Mile Bar in Town

Jan with Meat Cutter Victor at the Bar Reacting to Paul with Andrea

Paul with Date Andera

Paul's Forceful Kiss Rejected by Andera While Dancing
  • upset from the rejection, the next morning, in another of the film's most memorable scenes, Paul delivered a monologue about his preference for "supermodels" and "beautiful girls" to his friend Willie, in his bedroom adorned with pictures of supermodels on every wall: ("Supermodels are beautiful girls, Will. A beautiful girl can make you dizzy, like you've been drinkin' Jack and Coke all morning. She can make you feel high - full of the single greatest commodity known to man - promise. Promise of a better day. Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a new tomorrow. This particular aura can be found in the gait of a beautiful girl. In her smile, and in her soul, and the way she makes every rotten little thing about life seem like it's gonna be okay. The supermodels, Willie? That's all they are. Bottled promise. Scenes from a brand new day. Hope dancing in stiletto heels...A beautiful girl's all-powerful and that is as good as love")
  • that night, a drunken Willie casually flirted with Andera in the Johnson Inn while playing the piano with a boozy persona (and "sad face"), but after she spurned his "sexual advances," he gave up ("Well, I tried every angle"); however, she agreed to accompany him to Paul's ice-shack for some late-night ice-fishing
  • during their time there, Willie spoke about how his girlfriend Tracy was arriving the next day for the reunion, but he felt overwhelming ambivalence about her; he described the wonderful feelings that one could always experience in new dating and romantic relationships: ("You know how it is at the beginnings when you first fall in love? And you can't eat. You can't sleep. And getting a call from her makes your day, it's like, it's just like seeing a shooting star....But inevitably, it goes away. It quiets down. So, this is my thing, you see. Why get married now? Why, why not have two, three more of those beginning things before I, you know, settle into the big fade?"); he again tried to entice her: "Can you think of anything better than making love to an attractive stranger in the middle of a frozen lake with just an oil light to guide your way?" - but she admitted she was already very happy with her boyfriend and would be leaving the next day - "Going back to Chicago"
  • soon after Tracy arrived after an icy drive from NYC, she and Willie quickly rekindled their relationship, and Willie's father and brother were blown away by her and showered her with flattering compliments
  • from his upstairs window, Willie noticed that Marty was downtrodden to know that he was with his pretty girlfriend, and realized her hopes with him were dashed: ("Romeo And Juliet, the dyslexic version"); Marty also joked when comparing the two of them: ("Got that boob thing going for her!"); during a sad good-bye scene between Willie and Marty, he spoke to her from a second-story window and told her that they should stay in touch: "I hope we stay in touch, because I hope to learn someday about what you're doin', 'cause I think whatever it is, you'll be amazing. I really do"
Willie's and Marty's Sad Goodbye Scene
  • the film concluded with more interactions between the characters at three of the evening's events: a pre-reunion party at Mo's, drinking at The Johnson Inn, and the HS reunion itself at a fancy hotel; at the pre-reunion party, Paul (who was suspicious about Willie's late-night interactions with Andera) expressed his theories about women: "You let her behind the curtain, didn't you?...You let her behind the curtain. I know you did. You never let 'em behind the curtain, Will. You never let 'em see the little old man behind the curtain workin' the levers of the great and powerful Oz. They're all sisters, Willie. They aren't allowed back there. They mustn't see"
  • at the reunion where Darian arrived (with intentions to win back Tommy), she spoke to a former bullied 7th grade classmate named Peter "The Eater" Gropeman (Tom Gibis) (about his former weight problem), who told Darian that she was beautiful - but also "mean as a snake" in HS
  • however, Tommy had skipped everything to visit The Johnson Inn, where Darian's husband Steve offered Tommy a beer, and then got into a confrontational and vicious fight with him over his wife's affair: ("I can't buy you a drink, but you can stick your dick into my wife!"); outside, Tommy was beaten up by the gang of Steve and his three buddies and subsequently hospitalized (with a concussion, 30 stitches and two broken ribs); Tommy's friends came to his rescue by threatening Steve but didn't follow through due to the presence of Steve's young daughter; Willie was able to drive a snow-plow into the side of Steve's car-load of thugs to decisively end the conflict
  • Willie prepared to return to NYC with Tracy the next day, and had decided to remain a piano player and not take the sales job; Tracy affirmed his decision: (Tracy: "Piano players are sexy. Salesmen are uncles." Willie: "And uncles aren't sexy." Tracy: "Not usually"), before they made love; Willie had made a choice to adore Tracy and commit to her
Sharon With Tommy in the Hospital
  • the ever-loyal Sharon arrived at the hospital to be with Tommy, who reflected on the failures of his lower-class life - and how he hadn't even lived up to his own modest and ambitious intentions: ("I'm not even close to the guy that I thought I'd end up being. And it kinda blows"), but he was very grateful that she was faithfully there with him - and she stayed the entire night; Tommy told Willie the next morning that he would try to reform: ("She's one of the good ones. Why do we always manage to f--k up the good ones?")
  • that night, after Paul learned that Jan and Victor had become engaged, he cleared Jan's driveway of snow anyway
  • before departing in the morning, Willie gave Marty a kiss on the cheek; Paul promised Willie that the town wouldn't be changing much: "Come back and see us, Will. We'll be right here where you left us. Nothing changes here in the Ridge but the seasons"; he also noted that Marty was "the little neighborhood Lolita," although sharp-tongued Marty quickly quipped back: "So you're the alcoholic, high school buddy s--t-for-brains?"; the credits began to run with the reprised playing of "Sweet Caroline"

Willie "Will" Conway (Timothy Hutton) - NYC Piano Player

Paul Kirkwood (Michael Rapaport) - Co-Owner of Snow Plow Business

Family Man - Michael "Mo" Morris (Noah Emmerich)

Willie's Childhood Home in Knights Ridge, Mass.

Willie's First View of 13 Year-Old Next Door Neighbor Marty (Natalie Portman) Building a Snowman

Paul's Long-time Ex-Girlfriend Jan (Martha Plimpton)

The Johnson Inn Proprietor Stanley "Stinky" Womack (Pruitt Taylor Vince)

Marty's Words of Advice to Willie About His Life's Decisions and Commitment to His Girlfriend Tracy

Gina Barrisano (Rosie O'Donnell) Giving Advice to Sharon About Tommy

Vixenish Andera (Uma Thurman) from Chicago - "Stinky's" Cousin

Singing of "Sweet Caroline" in The Johnson Inn Bar-Room

Marty Admitting to Willie that She Had a Classmate Boyfriend Named Andrew

Surprise Birthday Party Thrown for Tommy by Sharon

Darian's Seduction of Tommy - Ruining the Party

Willie's Drunken Discussion with Mo About His Willingness to Wait for Marty to Grow Older: "I just want something beautiful"

Marty to Willie "You're my new boyfriend!"

Marty: "Wait five years! I'll be 18. We can walk through this world together"

Willie: "You'll change and then I'll be Winnie the Pooh to your Christopher Robin..."

Paul Kirkwood's Monologue to Will About "Supermodels"

Willie's Boozy Persona at the Piano In an Attempt To Pick Up on Andera

Willie's Second Attempt to Woo Andera in an Ice-Fishing Shack

Arrival of Willie's Girlfriend Tracy (Annabeth Gish)

At the HS Reunion, Bullied Peter "The Eater" Told Former Classmate Darian: "You were mean as a snake"

At the Johnson Inn, Tommy Was Confronted by Steve, Darian's Husband Before a Vicious Fight in the Alleyway

Willie with Girlfriend Tracy Who Affirmed His Decision to Not Be a Salesman ("Piano players are sexy...")

Willie's Goodbye Cheek Kiss to Marty


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